PETALING JAYA, Malaysia (BP) – Leavell College Dean Greg Wilton met Malaysian pastor Raymond Koh about a decade before police abducted Koh in an effort to quash his Christian ministry.
On the sixth anniversary of Koh’s Feb. 13, 2017, abduction, Wilton is among many praying and advocating for the pastor’s release.
“I highlight his abduction and disappearance every year on social media,” Wilton told Baptist Press. “It’s important that I never forget my friend. It’s also important that his family knows there are others out there who have not gotten over it. We shouldn’t be making heroes and celebrities in our faith, especially the kind that take our eyes off Jesus.
“However, there are rare individuals, of whom the world is not worthy, who do nothing to detract from Jesus and who do everything to bring Jesus all praise, glory and honor,” Wilton said. “Pastor Raymond is one of those rare individuals.”
Koh was driving along a highway in Petaling Jaya when three SUVs impeded his path, the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) reported, based on close-caption television security footage of the crime. Fifteen masked men pulled him away and stole his car in the 40-second scene, this version posted on YouTube by Voice of the Martyrs (VOM). He was 64 and hasn’t been seen or heard from since the abduction.
Koh ran a nonprofit ministry helping people living with HIV/AIDs, recovering addicts and single mothers and children. Islamic authorities once investigated him over allegations he was working to convert Muslims to Christianity, among other outreaches.
USCIRF, Voice of the Martyrs, Open Doors, International Christian Concern and the Jubilee Campaign are among groups that have advocated for Koh’s release.
VOM spokesperson Todd Nettleton said the pastor has been missing far too long, especially for Koh’s wife and children.
“For Susanna and the Koh family, it’s been six years, waking up every morning wondering what happened to Pastor Raymond, wondering where he is, how he is,” Nettleton said. “I, and many other Christians around the world, have been inspired by Susanna’s grace and faithfulness through these years. I pray God will continue to bless and sustain her and their family.
“And to the Malaysian government,” Nettleton said, “I join my voice with thousands of others calling for a full and transparent accounting of what happened to Pastor Raymond Koh and other victims of forced disappearance.”
Wilton, who planned to lead students in praying for Koh, encourages fellow Southern Baptists to pray for Koh.
“Southern Baptists should pray constantly for Pastor Raymond and for persecuted Christians around the world. The greatest thing a Southern Baptist can do is to pray for our brothers and sisters around the world,” Wilton said. “They are our brothers and sisters in Christ. To not think of them in this way is a clear violation of God’s expectation for his church to function as the family of God.”
Wilton first met Koh while in college and reconnected with him in 2013 when he moved to Southeast Asia.
“He loved Jesus. He loved and served anyone. He lived humbly. He believed wholeheartedly that Jesus is worthy,” Wilton said. “When I think of Pastor Raymond, I’m reminded of the many persecuted Christians around the world who don’t even have the chance to receive glory and recognition for themselves. Yet, even if they could, the Pastor Raymonds of this world wouldn’t dare do such a thing because they know all glory belongs to Christ.”
Sunni Muslims are the religious majority in Malaysia, but even they must adhere to strict, state-approved interpretation of Islam, USCIRF reported. In its 2023 Global Prayer Guide, VOM deems Malaysia one of 41 restricted countries where Christians face governmental and societal persecution. Open Doors lists Malaysia 43rd on its 2023 World Watch List of the most difficult places for Christians to live, citing Islamic oppression.
Koh is among 1,934 persons of various faiths USCIRF classifies as victims of freedom of religion or belief, including those still held, those released, those whose fate is unknown and seven who died in custody.